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Linda Byars receives District Five Superintendent’s Volunteer Service Award

IRMO- When people bring up the name Linda Byars, one place immediately comes to mind: Irmo High School. Byars’ dedication to the school has been unprecedented and is the reason she was the recipient of the 2016-2017 Lexington-Richland School District Five Superintendent’s Volunteer Service Award. Byars was presented the award by District Five Superintendent Dr. Stephen Hefner at the district’s Community Involvement Celebration at Dutch Fork Middle School on April 18.

Other award winners included: Kristin Batchelor, Irmo Elementary (Outstanding Volunteer); Fran Ricks, Chapin Intermediate (Outstanding Volunteer); James Burns, Chapin High (Outstanding Volunteer); United Way of the Midlands Reading Consortium, Harbison West Elementary (Outstanding Volunteer Group); Clemson Extension & Richland Soil and Water Conservation District, Dutch Fork Middle (Outstanding Volunteer Group); The Outreach Committee of St. Francis of Assisi, Chapin High (Outstanding Volunteer Group); Ashland United Methodist Church, Seven Oaks Elementary (Outstanding Business Partner); Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Dutch Fork Middle (Outstanding Business Partner); Generations of Chapin, Chapin High (Outstanding Business Partner); Jane Pierce, Dutch Fork Elementary (Outstanding Mentor); Rick Howell, Chapin Middle (Outstanding Mentor); Teen Talk, Irmo High (Outstanding Mentor); PTO, Oak Pointe Elementary (Outstanding Parent-Teacher Organization); PTO, CrossRoads Intermediate (Outstanding Parent-Teacher Organization) and PTO, Irmo High (Outstanding Parent-Teacher Organization).

“I was in shock when Dr. Hefner called my name,” Byars said with a laugh. “I was not expecting to hear my name called at all. I was here as a member of Irmo High School’s SIC, and this was just an amazing surprise. I am honored to receive the Superintendent’s Volunteer Service Award. Seeing the children at Irmo High School flourish is rewarding enough, but this just means so much to be recognized.”

Irmo High School has had a special place in Byars’ heart for over 20 years. Her son graduated as a Yellow Jacket in 1995 and ever since, Byars, a former geometry teacher, has strived to give back to the place and community that has meant so much to her.

She has spearheaded numerous landscaping projects on the Irmo High School campus to give it a luxurious curb appeal. One of those projects included a lattice brick wall in front of the school’s athletic fields on the corner of St. Andrews Road and Emory Lane.

The funding for the wall came from the help of the Michael J. Mungo Foundation as a result of Byars’ advocacy for the school. Irmo High School’s PTO also contributed to the project. Byars worked closely with the state’s Department of Transportation to ensure safety. She also has worked with students to plant flowers around the school’s brick signage out front.

“These students have given me more than I have ever given them,” Byars said. “I am very happy to think about our future with the hope that these children have exemplified at Irmo High School. I see nurturing, caring and friendships, and goodwill that is so impressive to me.”

Byars has made an emphasis on keeping the beautification of Irmo High School in superior condition. She recalled an emotional moment once while cleaning litter around the front of the campus when she was approached by two students.

“I’m sure they looked at me and didn’t think twice about what I was doing,” Byars said. “Then all of a sudden they walked over and told me how much they appreciated what I was doing and making our school look better. They then told me they wanted to help and started picking up litter with me. After we finished, they asked if it would be alright to give me a hug. Not only did that moment make my day, it made my life.”

Irmo High School Principal David Riegel nearly choked up when asked about what Byars means. “It is hard not to get emotional when talking about Linda,” Riegel said. “She has been so instrumental in making our school beautiful, a place where students want to come and learn each and every day, and there just aren’t enough words to describe what she has meant to me, our staff and students, and our Irmo family!”

When presenting her with the award, Dr. Hefner was all smiles in describing Byars’ contribution to Irmo High School.

“Here in District Five, the people are what matter. Without the help of our community members, our district cannot thrive. Linda Byars has been an extraordinary asset to Irmo High School and her efforts are truly deserving of the Superintendent’s Volunteer Service Award.”

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